Cat-astrophe Averted At Every Step

Our heartfelt thanks to all of you who have been so generous with your support and love.  You really know how to come through with top-grade empathy.  Try to imagine how grateful I am.  Without your presence, I would have had to go through this ordeal unattended.  And this is the first such I’ve been through – and please lord may it be the last, may we enjoy perfect health going forward forevermore.  I can only use one of these in a lifetime.  Without your support, I’d have been toast, believe me.  It was touch and go as it was.

Barney is now resting comfortably, as they say.  He’s sporting a three-inch incision on his tummy.  It’s a doozy.  As of this writing on Saturday night, I’ll spare you the visual.

And I also want to offer devout gratitude to whatever divine providence that stayed by our side through the whole process.  Heaven alone knows how all the breaks cut in our favor. At every crucial step, cat-astrophe was averted.

Avert The First: Driving on the freeway at 4:30 a.m. on New Year’s, Wednesday morning in the dark.  No collisions with other persons on the road at 4:30 a.m. on New Year’s.  I kept prying my bloodless fingers from the wheel and trying to breathe, trying not to imagine what the drivers behind those headlights had been up to for the last twelve hours.  What had I been up to for the last twelve hours?  Partying with a mop and bucket.  Plus, in the latter half-hour, with Barney in the car crying in his carrier and tearing my heart out.  Plus, I need to re-emphasize that it was 4:30 a.m. on New Year’s.  But.  No accident.

Avert The Second: The diagnosis fork-in-the-road.  Would my budget be able to stand the full battery of tests the emergency vet wanted to run?  Or would lack of money mean that we would have to skip the diagnostics, treat the symptoms only, and keep our paws and fingers crossed that they’d simply go away?

I need to emphasize at this point – hissing – that this clinic required payment up front, or no treatment.

I am eternally grateful I was able to pay for the full battery.  The X-rays told the whole story.  Here is the offending “Foreign Body,” as Barney’s medical records call it.  I.e., a piece of Da Bird cat-toy. Next to my old cellphone to show scale.

surg3 001

Barney, you are adorable but you are also a very silly boy.

Consider what would have happened if we had let more time go by with this piece of Da Bird stuck in Barney’s small intestine.  Strangulation would advance, tissue would die, and the eventual surgery – which in any case could not have been avoided – would have been complicated by advanced infection.  Just as it was, after only 12-24 hours, Barney had a temp of 104, two degrees elevated from normal.  Plus he was dehydrated from all that vomiting.  This means his blood was starting to thicken, if I’ve understood the situation right.

Let’s pause to contemplate those unhappy souls who find themselves unable to pay up front.  Because this clinic will not treat without payment up front.  And, on a holiday, this clinic is pretty much all she wrote in this area (unless you happen to know of another clinic that does take emergencies of which clinic, at the time, I did not know; now I do know and I hear they are more compassionate).

I simply cannot imagine being unable to pay and, for that reason alone, being turned away with an animal who would die without treatment.  That is just brutality in the name of lucre. That is just not acceptable in a civilized society.

Avert The Third: Because my house is so small and I am home so much, I am pretty much aware, most of the time, of most of what the cats get up to and into.  So I became aware that Barney had vomited around eight times in twelve hours.  This was obviously not right.

Here are both boys, early in the afternoon as Barney’s condition was progressing. Both boys are unusually subdued, as you can see.

surg1 004If, on the other hand, my life were more eventful and my house bigger, Barney’s condition would likely not have made itself known as quickly.  See above, for what delay would have meant.

Avert The Fourth.  Before I start to vent here, I want to express my gratitude to the emergency people.  They were as kind and professional as they could be under the circumstances.  And Barney is recovering.  All good.

But.  Now.  The “circumstances.”

Thanks to the muscle I believe regular vets have exerted around here, they have made it so anytime they are open, this emergency clinic has to close.

Just think what this could have meant, if I had driven Barney to emergency on a regular Wednesday morning.  Barney would have been operated on at around 6:30.  Shortly thereafter, I – I, people, me, all alone by myself, just minutes post-surgery – would have had to transport Barney to his regular vet.  Then Barney would spend the day under observation at the regular vet.  When that vet closed at 6:00, then I, I all alone, would have had to transport Barney back to the emergency clinic for observation during the night.  And then repeat, d.c. al fine, until Barney would be discharged into my care.

All this to-and-fro shlepping done in the winter, of course, and, so far, in an unusually severe winter.  We’re iced-in again, as I write on Sunday morning.  My friend just called to tell me we’re in a “polar vortex.”  It’s going down to 1 degree F. tonight.

Pray the power stays on.

And picture what this to-and-fro shlepping would have been like if Barney had had a less-clear condition that posed diagnostic problems.  I can imagine one surgery, whoops sorry wrong condition – and you fill in the blanks with that one.  Now that I’m talking to friends about this, I have heard stories about this kind of thing happening.  Ending with a trip to and from Kansas City or Oklahoma City – also on icy roads – for the right treatment.

Again, forgive me if I simply cannot grasp how the vets or whoever is responsible can have pulled off this very bad deal.  The emergency people explained that the regular vets have a hard time meeting their costs.  I am sympathetic but I’m sorry.  Forcing the repeated transport of injured and ill animals, by distraught guardians, seems to me, again, like brutality in the name of lucre.  Not acceptable in a civilized society.

But in our case, Avert The Fourth meant that the budget could stand the (staggering) stress, Barney’s diagnosis was straightforward, surgery was uncomplicated, and, because all this happened on New Year’s, Barney was able to rest post-surgery for one day and one more night, before I had to shlep him to the regular vet.  In the dark at 7:00 a.m. on Thursday.  On icy roads.

Thank goodness Barney was dopey because of the IV pain meds he’d received and that Thursday-morning trip was uneventful.  Despite icy roads in the dark.  Also again good news that he pooped on the journey; he’d eaten a little solid food and the system was moving.  Well, good news for Barney and me.  Not so for the regular-vet techs who had to swab out.

Avert The Fifth: Bugsy’s vomiting appears to have been a temporary anxiety thing.  Poor little guy.  That terrible New Year’s Day, after a sleepless night, on my return home while Barney was still in surgery and the outcome still unknown, Bugs was glued to the front window.  When I came in the door, he was all “where have you been what the hell is going on here and what, pray tell, have you done with my pal Barney.”  This carry-on continued for quite some time before I could hardly get in the door.  Once I was in, he ran into the kitchen and continued the carry-on.

I misinterpreted this as hunger, so I fed him.  At which point he threw up.

But contrast this behavior with the next day, after Barney had come through and I returned home from transporting him from the emergency clinic to the regular vet.  Bugs was up on Top Shelf chill-axing.  “Oh hi mom where’s breakfast.”  And it stayed down no problem.

So – Bugs is fine now.  Actually he loves Barney’s prescription food, more than Barney does as a matter of fact.

So back to the real patient.  Thursday evening Barney was doing well enough for me to collect him from the regular vet and bring him to Blessed Home, where we all have been ever since.

Here is a shot taken yesterday, Saturday, just after I administered his pain meds.  Peace, man.

surg3 003
Day by day he’s improving.  This morning, Sunday, he wanted to play.

In fact – thanks and all obeisance and praise to Vetericyn – his incision is so much better, I think it’s suitable for family viewing at this point.

surg4 003-crop
But I have to watch out.  There are the internal stitches and so he must still stay confined and prevented from running or jumping.

Given that the whole house is set up for running and jumping, Barney and I are now camped in, trying to run our lives from Base Camp.  This will be necessary for the duration, which is until Barney gets his staples out, which, I’m told, will be one more week.

So we’re sharing a 10-by-10 space with all the charm and appeal of a cross between prison and the Lower East Side tenements.  With litter box.

With Bugs going “I want in, I want out, what is this towel you put up over the louvre on the door, to keep me from complaining and waking you up at all hours? that’ll have to go, and right now too, I want in, out, in, what are you doing in there oh nothing I see therefore I want out.”  Repeat d.c. al fine.

Here’s the boys just after they played a little together this morning.  Bugsy is on his way to inspect the rest of the premises.  To find them totally wanting, naturally. And then to want out.  Until he wants in again.

surg6 001-crop
Wish us luck.  After one week of this, there’s just no telling.

I want to write more about the Foreign Body and how mad I am at Da Bird.  But right now Bugs is caterwauling at me out there and I better go minister to something.  Thank goodness Downton Abbey resumes tonight.  Assuming the power stays on.  Where is Anna when she is needed?  Married to Bates, that’s where, and frankly she’s wasted on him.  What’s the world coming to, as Cousin Violet would sniff.


About nadbugs

Anita loves cats. This must be because she, too, has had nine lives. She’s been dancing since she could walk, she was a commercial artist and advertising producer, she earned a third-degree black belt in Aikido, she is a drummer with the Afrique Aya Dance Company, she is an attorney, and she’s a meditator and a devoted student of Nonviolent Communication. She also spent one lifetime sidelined with a devastating back injury in 1992. Since then – FELDENKRAIS METHOD® to the rescue. The FELDENKRAIS METHOD is all about dreaming concretely – thinking intelligently and independently by way of a gracious and kind physicality. The work affords all who study it a process by which to reach, with movement, into the mind and the heart, to make nine lives into one whole being.
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21 Responses to Cat-astrophe Averted At Every Step

  1. Sparkle says:

    Thanks so much for the update, and I’m so happy that Barney is recovering. Not so happy about some of your experiences. Sadly, I think that the whole emergency vet being closed when regular vets are open thing is common everywhere – I know it is here. And while that is not necessarily that big a deal in an area like southern California, where we rarely ever have really awful weather, I wonder if perhaps they shouldn’t at least make an exception in snow areas when there are bad storms. The money up front thing is problematic too. I do realize, these hard-working humans need to be paid, but there needs to be some sort of payment plan thing available for those who don’t have the money or credit card balance up front – because if it is an emergency, a lot of times the procedures can be pricey! Anyhow, that’s my rant.

  2. cat9984 says:

    We’re so glad everything worked out. It’s so hard to help when they can’t tell you what hurts.

  3. purrs for peace and healing after your harrowing ordeal. I’m concerned about the safety of a popular toy and legal ramifications. This could be a wake-up call to review all cat toys and safety issues.

  4. Herman says:

    I’m happy for all of you. Wishing you all the best.

  5. I cannot BELIEVE he swallowed something SO LARGE!! How in the world did he do that without choking? He must be a sword swallower!! Don’t mean to make a joke but I am shocked that he swallowed that!
    I KNOW ALL TOO WELL about emergency vets requiring payment up front. THEY ALL DO. Years ago my Angel Bobo had 6 kidney stones….one emergency vet quoted us $3000 UP FRONT…thankfully a vet working there (who is NOW my regular veterinarian, he was on call at the emergency vet that night) told us to take Bobo to another vet that was $1500 but they also wanted money up front. WHO HAS THIS KIND OF MONEY? I ended up having to humble myself and borrow from my younger brother who isn’t the biggest animal lover so I won’t go into the yelling at me that I had to endure for “surgery for a senior cat”………..we desperately need emergency clinics that will allow people to pay a SMALL deposit for surgery and trust that they will pay the remainder.
    I am so glad that Barney is now doing much much better!

  6. addercatter says:

    Thank goodness he is recovering! Wow… i can’t believe it was because of Da Bird… i just ordered one of those for Addycat… i haven’t even received it in the mail yet. Now I’m going to be afraid to give it to her 😦

  7. Connie says:

    So glad that Barney is recovering nicely and it was a ‘simple’ (if not inexpensive) fix Purrs he continues to recover quickly and is back to normal soon

    as for e-vets being paid upfront, there is a darn good reason for it. Too many people do not feel the need to pay for such services, they think that evets should be free. Even regular vets often have people walk out the door with out paying and never coming back – evets do not have any sort of relationship with the client in most cases and the incidents of people skipping out on payments is very high if they do not get the money before the pet receives services or the clinic gets paid before the pet is back in the owners hands. People complain constantly of vets ‘holding hostage’ a pet who had hundreds if not thousands of dollars worth of treatment, and calling them heartless and cruel. People forget that it costs a LOT of money for those places to be open in the first place. Having enough staff on hand to do surgery on the off chance it is needed on a weekend or a holiday is very expensive.. having a building, having the equipment, meds, etc.. and on top of all of that are people who skip out on the bill… stop payments on checks, reverse charges on credit cards, not pay on carecredit, etc..

    I do not approve of the way emergency clinics work, how money orientated they are, how they often over charge dramatically for simple things, etc.. but I am very very thankful they are there. With out it, Barney could have died, and there was a darn good chance my Jack would have as well recently..

  8. Carolyn says:

    I think there was more than one miracle occurring here! Amazing!! So glad Barney is doing well after the trauma he (and you) went through! I am not sure how the emergency vet system works here, as I haven’t had to use them … yet!

    On a more cheerful note, the latest series of Downton has some great lines in it 😉

  9. Connie’s comment is very interesting, I know she has had some doozy experiences with vets so it’s amazing to hear her come out in *favor* of e-vets. Having said that, we’ve broken the bank on a couple furkids in the middle of the night, too.

    ANYHOO, thank Cod Barney is recovering! His incision does look good, nice and pink. I put up all toys involving string when they’re not being played with; I have a couple of chewers and I dread this very thing happening. Kiss that poor boy for me.

    xx Trish

  10. MelanieJ says:

    OMG, I’m so sorry that I missed your New Year’s post! We had some drama here over the holiday as well and I wasn’t caught up on my reading at all. I’m so glad to hear that Barney is recovering, and that the problem was something fixable, even if scary at the time. (And I’m glad that Bugs is feeling more himself as well.)

    I was appalled to hear that the emergency vet is required to be closed when the other vets are open. I’ve never heard of such a thing! We are blessed with two emergency vet hospitals open 24/7 365 days a year, within driving distance. They’ve saved our animals lives’ a few times, and my regular vet doesn’t hesitate to refer us to them if she feels that the problem is highly specialized/life threatening. I can’t believe that an emergency vet actually takes business away from the “regular” vets anyway… who would want to pay the higher fees if they didn’t have to?!

  11. Kitties Blue says:

    Wow, what an ordeal you and Barney have been through. We have that same situation where I live. If the regular vets are open, the emergency vet hospital must close. When Lily was hit my a car ten years ago and had four lung punctures and a broken and dislocated leg, I had to pick her up every morning and evening and transport her about 30 minutes cross-town. The only thing that saved the situation for me was that the main emergency vet and our vet were long-time colleagues and were able to work close together to save Lily’s life. She is almost 15. I don’t think she would have lived without the two of them caring for her together. The up front payment sucks! I won’t say all is well that ends well as Barney still had to have surgery and go through this grueling ordeal. But so glad it turned out that he will continue to be in your life. I got the kids da Bird for Christmas, but I haven’t opened it yet as they also got some other wand toys that they are enjoying. Now I wonder if I should. Prayers and purrs for Barney, Janet and Kitties Blue

  12. So glad to hear everything turned out on the upside your you and the Barney man! I’ve been through similar with my own kitty minus the stress of driving in frigid weather and worrying about having to do transfers. Only in Jasio’s case it was a hairball the size of a mouse and not a toy! Much love and purrs to you and yours. Give Barney a hug for me.

    Kitties Blue- Da Bird is as safe as any other wand toy, just make sure you put it away when you’re not playing with them. I’ve used this toy for 16 years with no problems, but you know cats, if you leave it out they will find a way to make it a problem! Some cats will eat anything, this week we had a patient in to where I work for the same issue as Barney, only he had eaten a crocodile with about 5 inches of string attached.

  13. Holy cow-spotted-cat! What were you thinking, Barney? Da piece of Da Bird looks gigantic and completely unappetizing… Glad you’re healing and feeling better, and hopefully you’ve learned a big lesson: only eat foreign objects that taste good…. Da Bird – yikes!!!

  14. Anne d says:

    Thanks for warning on Da bird . Itis hard to believe that the regular vets will not keep a sick animal overnight

  15. littlemiao says:

    many hugs and purrs for Barney and the rest of you. What an awful thing to happen. I am so glad he is in the recovery phase now.

  16. Cats & Co says:

    So much stress going on. 😦 Hope things go better now!

  17. IsobelandCat says:

    What drama. And impressive stitching. Your stress levels must be through the roof. My nephew had to keep one of his cats in a cage after an op on a broken leg to stop him doing further damage.
    All the best.

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  19. Connie says:

    That is one impressively well done incision!

    I know it is easy to vilify emergency clinics and their need to get payment upfront, but there is a very very good reason for it.. people do not pay afterwards. they okay thousands of dollars worth of surgery and testing knowing full well they do not have the capability to pay and then simply walk out the door with their animal. I worked at a non emergency vet and way too often people would roll up with an injured animal and expect the vet to take care of it and not charge them.. or claim poverty when the bill came even though they rolled up in a very nice and clean new car and nice clothing and accessories.. Each time a vet has to eat a bill it not only cuts into his profits, but his ability to do his job. too many of them and the vet has to close and there is no one there to take care of pets who do have owners who are willing to fulfill the financial obligations of owning a pet. I hate the idea that there is no net for people in financial straights who end up with a deathly ill pet, but there is no national health programs for animals like there is people.. (who sadly need to get all of their health care done at emergency room clinics putting hospitals in financial trouble)

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